Engineers give Missouri's infrastructure a C-

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | 11:10 a.m. CDT; updated 3:16 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 22, 2013

KANSAS CITY — Civil engineers say Missouri's infrastructure gets only a C minus.

The regional chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the letter grade Wednesday. It is part of a report card that evaluated the state's aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, inland waterways, levees, railroads, roads, schools and wastewater. Each sub-category also received a grade.

The engineers found the most faults with the state's dams and energy, giving them both D-minus grades. The report says Missouri regulates only a portion of the dams that could cause significant damage if they failed. The engineers also said more investment is needed to help shift from coal toward sustainable energy.

The state's roads earned a C. Lawmakers ended their session without approving a 1 cent state sales tax for transportation projects.

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Jimmy Bearfield May 22, 2013 | 1:06 p.m.

But hey, we've got two arenas and two stadiums for pro sports and more colleges than we can afford.

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Richard Saunders May 22, 2013 | 1:55 p.m.

Ummm... civil engineers have absolutely NO basis for claiming that more investment is needed to move from coal to "sustainable" energy.

This statement is but political grandstanding in an area they've no experience in. I would bet that not five out of every hundred civil engineers could even accurately describe what a dollar IS, let alone understand economics well enough to make determinations about investment levels measured with it.

They should be too busy using their expertise to determine the structural integrity of the energy infrastructure, rather than playing evil political games in an effort to get noticed.

Perhaps they're hoping for some grant money to come their way, like the rest of the welfare queens who go on and on about lack of government spending?

We've went a long way down the "slippery slope" when an engineering society enters the political arena. Suddenly science and logic take a back seat to saying the right things.

Simply put, engineers should know better. Especially "professional" ones.

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Ellis Smith May 22, 2013 | 2:53 p.m.

There most definitely IS one circumstance for which any engineer and engineering society should - and must* - come forward: public (and industrial) safety. Highways, bridges and dams can all pose potential public safety hazards.

Sunday afternoon I drove across a segment of state highway in northeast Iowa that 12 hours later COLLAPSED into a sinkhole. There were no casualties. How'd ya like to drive into THAT at highway speed?

I have no statistics on the number of Civil Engineers who have or lack "dollar sense," but I can tell you that Chemical Engineers, Mining Engineers, Metallurgical Engineers, Petroleum Engineers, Geological Engineers and Ceramic Engineers have "dollar sense."

*- That's part of the professional code of ethics.

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Derrick Fogle May 22, 2013 | 2:59 p.m.

Climate change is not politics; it is science. Trying to claim climate change is only politics... now THAT's politics!

Anthropogenic climate change is NOT some vast scientific conspiracy.
Anthropogenic climate change is a vast scientific CONSENSUS.

And yes, our energy production portfolio, how it affects our climate and thus our infrastructure and civilian population, actually IS a valid concern, within the scope of their work, for civil engineers.

I also find it highly ironic that you feel you have the knowledge / authority to say civil engineers have no experience in climate science, and thus should not be saying anything about it, when I suspect you are neither a civil engineer, nor a climate scientist.

More likely, you're just a hypocrite.

As for Missouri's actual infrastructure, our race to the bottom seems to be going quite well indeed.

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Ken Geringer May 22, 2013 | 6:07 p.m.

There are still 3 states that tax less per capita than Missouri. We still have work to do. We don't care how bad it gets.

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John Schultz May 22, 2013 | 9:57 p.m.

While the engineers and Obama and various folks in DC moan about infrastructure (and call for an infrastructure stimulus), the nation's infrastructure has been getting better. For example, the number of deficient (and that doesn't necessarily mean dangerous) bridges has dropped year to year. The cynical side of me thinks some organizations tout the infrastructure crisis since they'll be the ones to fix it with our tax dollars.

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Corey Parks May 22, 2013 | 10:43 p.m.

They had me until "The engineers also said more investment is needed to help shift from coal toward sustainable energy". What does this statement have to do with infrastructural and its "poor" rating?

I agree that the country has come a long way in fixing roads and bridges in the last 10 years but just like anything it is an never ending practice and would never be complete. To tear something down just to build a new one so it does to become dated is a waste of money. Columbia has had its issues with water main breaks over the years and the Water and Light department get on them right away and fix that area as they break. To suggest that they just start digging up miles and miles of lines just to put new pipe down would be a misuse of tax payers money.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 23, 2013 | 6:23 a.m.

There are a number of different engineering societies, but except for matters of public and industrial safety (see my post, above) they seldom speak with one voice. Like many non-engineering organizations they work largely for their own interests.

At one of the four University of Missouri System* campuses - you'll never guess which one - there is a huge student chapter of AIMME, American Institute of Mining & Metallurgical Engineers, which in turn considers one building on that campus to have special, honored status: it's the site where the first public university instruction in mining and metallurgy took place in the United States (the first private university instruction was at Columbia University, in New York City).

But then you knew that, because University of Missouri System makes a big thing about it in their promotional literature and on their System web site. The adulation is almost embarrassing. :)

Almost certainly the smallest or nearly smallest of the engineering societies is The National Institute of Ceramic Engineers, NICE. We are a subdivision of he American Ceramic Society (one qualification of membership is that you must also be an ACerS member). The number one priority for NICE is Ceramic Engineering and Ceramic Science education. Another priority is fuel conservation when processing ceramics (and if you burn less fossil fuel, you also reduce carbon dioxide emissions).

It's so nice to be NICE.

*- System? WHAT system? No system exists, or has ever existed.

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